Education

How Our Muscles Contract

Perfect développés. Explosive grand jetés. We all have ballet dreams and goals that we're working toward. So then we must understand muscle contraction (tension). 

With muscles, dancers have to under the Law of Approximation {ahem, clearing throat and speaking deeper}: The Law of Approximation means that muscles can only pull the ends of muscles toward each other (shortening / contraction) and not push them away. 

Now that we understand that, let's dive in! 

Evgenia Obraztsova and Alexei Timofeyev in Don Quixote.

Photo


 

Dancers: Don't Underestimate the Power of...

The dance world gets busy. We are either in class, rehearsals, teching for a show, being sized for costumes or working other jobs to pay the bills. The dance life can become hectic fast, which means things get cut out.

We have to examine what corners we're cutting in order to save time. What we are cutting out or short may be harming our lives or dancing. 

Sarah Lamb in rehearsal by Johan Persson for The Royal Ballet. {Photo by Johan Persson}

So let us take a pause and look at things that may be getting cut from our: 1) Health 2) Personal Lives 3) Dancing. 


 

Joints: How We Create Shapes and Lines

We are better dancers when we are armed with knowledge. We need to understand our 206 bones (alignment), our muscles (strength v. flexiblity), our joints, our ligaments and our weaknesses. If we know our bodies, then we are better prepared to head into class to control all of those moving parts. Today, we examine our joints.

First, ask yourself:

1. What is always sore after you're finished dancing?

2. What feels tight?

3. What do you feel you need to pop or bang on?

4. Where do you feel like you get stuck?

Now, let us dive into dancer anatomy to try to uncover some of your mysterious aches, pains or challenges.

Photo by: Matthew Fang


 

Take Care of Your Ballerina Hair

 Pulling your hair into a ballet bun every day puts a lot of stress and tension on your hair and scalp. Hair designer, Corie Crowley, helps us understand how to take care of your hair (and pamper it) after long dance days of sweat, elastic bands and bobby pins.


 

Nutrition & Flexibility for Dancers Mind, Body, Spirit

Written by: Stacey Nemour

For everyone, but especially for dancers, being healthy and at your appropriate weight - a weight that supports functioning at the highest level - is a form of self-mastery. Some of us master money, relationships, career or some other special skill. Dancers want to master their strength and potential. Mastery turns out to be what we believe we are capable of. Our bodies reflect what we believe about ourselves. In life, we have the greatest gift of all: power of free choice and to be the person we want to be.


 

This v. That: Ballet

In ballet, there are so many terms that either sound alike, look alike or seem eerily similar. They're the set of words that always get switched in your brain or make you think a little harder on which is which. Stress no more! We are here to help you see and feel the difference in seemingly similar ballet terms.


 

Reversing Ballet Combinations

We all dread the same words from our ballet teachers' mouths: "Now reverse!"

But reversing ballet combinations helps our minds and bodies train in a more advanced manner, preparing us for more advanced dancing. Reversing combinations is very similar to putting together a puzzle. It challenges our minds to take each individual piece of the combination, reverse it, while quickly putting them back together. Reversing combinations takes practice, and it can be frustrating for those who are just stepping into this seemingly frantic world. But we are here to help you!

Here is out "How-To" guide to understanding reversing ballet combinations.



Photo: From the series "Espirit de Corps" by photographer Jesús Chapa-Malacara


 

Dancers with Food Allergies: What You Should Know

Food allergies are a serious concern, and there are dancers and ballerinas out there with unpredictable reactions to foods. Dance moms and teachers need to be aware of allergies, reactions and what to do in a situation should a dancer begin to react to food.

We spoke with Nancy Giles of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) about how to keep our dancers safe and healthy!

ballerinacupcake
Photo: Fooducate.com and Blisstree.com


 

Playing for Ballerinas: The Accompanist

You walk into class and prepare to focus, warm your body, and dance. But dancers often forget that accompanists help train our ear and our bodies with their intricate and ever-changing music which they produce on the spot.

Christopher Hobson, a freelance Ballet Répétiteur, Orchestral Musician and Composer, plays, prepares and sells music for ballet classes around the world. He plays the piano, percussion, violin, saxophone and clarinet. Having grown up with music, Chris transitioned into working with dancers later. Today, he talks with us about the 20 dance classes he plays for a week and the challenges and beauty of merging music and dance.

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Dancing with Scoliosis

Meet Melanie Christine. A 17-year-old dancer from Ohio whose dancing life was drastically changed when she realized her spine was severely curved. Melanie's Scoliosis eventually led to surgery, and when she woke up from surgery her entire spine was fused and she had 2 rods and 30 screws holding her spine into place. She began the long, arduous journey of re-training her body to move.

Today, Melanie serves as an inspiration for other dancers. "I want to devote my life to helping other people because I can relate to what it is like to be pulled down and then have to rise up again," Melanie says.

Even through all of the physical pain of surgery and the emotional pain of being moved to "beginner" level dance classes post-surgery, Melanie believes in one truth without doubt: "If dance is in your heart, you will always find a way."

spine
Photo from Melanie of her spine pre-surgery


 

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